Expecting

Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. 

Luke 2:11 –  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

I struggle so much with the month of December, the expectations threaten to steal all my joy in this season. There are lost expectations and grief from missing loved ones. I’m constantly managing others’ expectations (or my own guesses about them) as I try to buy the perfect gifts and cook a great meal.  I’m expecting to see the whole family, attend parties and visit with people who have no one to celebrate with. It’s the most wonderful and overwhelming time of year!  I carry all the pressure of these expectations that honestly,  even in my best most “got it together” year I could never meet.  It’s so easy for me to get distracted by comparisons, become disappointed and forget what the season is truly about.

I have heard the Christmas story all of my life and each year I ask the Lord to teach me something new from this story. Today, as I sit reading it again in my house that’s under construction with all of my stuff packed away, God is speaking to me about expectations! 

When Jesus was born, the people were waiting, looking, expecting a messiah, a king, someone to deliver them, overcome evil and rule in peace. God defied all expectations.  He sent a baby….born in Bethlehem- in a barn…to live a perfect life, to die a horrible death and rise again on the 3rd day!  He chose a young, young woman named Mary, and a carpenter named Joseph to be His parents.  We would have expected Jesus to be born in a palace, or the best the world could offer, but God chose a stable, a dirty barn with animals! What did Mary think? She was expecting to be married, not have a baby in a barn with animals and hay! What about Joseph? He was expecting to marry his bride, not become a father. But, they were obedient, and they loved. They put their expectations aside and obeyed God.

God’s gift for you may not be packaged the way you expected it! God has such a beautiful plan, wrapped in ways you could never dream or expect! Our lives may look and feel like that messy barn. You may think God has brought you to the wrong place, and surrounded you with unexpected guests – like Mary. But God’s presence changes everything and fills our hearts with hope and joy!  Like Mary & Joseph, let’s surrender our expectations and embrace His presence.

“Do not be afraid” is the angel’s message over and over. To me, in this season of my life His message is: don’t be afraid, let God work, surrender my expectations. I commit this Christmas Season to the Lord, and I’m asking Him to establish my thoughts and plans. 

Expecting blessings, choosing the Joy of Jesus, & expecting my Savior’s return,Mary

Highly Favored

There is something so warm and comforting in the tradition of rereading the Christmas story each December.  It’s a story that is so familiar because we see movies, watch plays, and attend candlelight Christmas Eve services each year that celebrates the birth of Christ. However, in the familiarity of the gospel story there is always new revelation to discover as we dig into scripture.  One of these rhema words, you know those moments the Holy Spirit is speaking straight to your soul, came to me a few years ago as I read Luke 1:26-36.  The angel Gabriel comes to Mary.  Scripture clearly lets us know that she is betrothed and a virgin.  Since we have never experienced a culture where there are arranged marriages, allow me to give a little background.  What Luke was communicating to his audience was that she was in covenant with someone, the bride price and the dowry had been paid but the wedding day had not occurred yet.  She was in a season of preparation for her groom and while his job was to build a place for her attached to his family’s home, her job was to prove her purity.  This was a vital part of this honor-shame way of life.  

     Going back to the narrative, Gabriel appears to Mary and says, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”  The next part is what really stuck out to me.  It says, “Mary was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be”.  This seems so odd. In our western American-dream culture we would immediately be wondering what amazing blessings we were about to receive with this newly announced favor!  Would we be getting that dream job, dream home, dream man?  Would we be so favored to have a large platform to influence millions of people?  I think we would be dancing and celebrating our victory.  But Mary was not only troubled, she was deeply troubled.  The angel goes on to speak over her that she will conceive and give birth to a son.  His name would be Jesus and He would be great.  He would be called Son of the Most High and His kingdom will have no end.  Again…wouldn’t that be incredibly exciting?  That would be even bigger and better than a social media platform or a dream job!  To a 14 year old girl in the east those words meant something entirely different.  In an honor-shame culture it would mean that she was potentially about to be publically divorced and shunned by the entire community because no one would believe she was still pure.  

This weight would be far too heavy for any young girl to carry, but Gabrial states in verse 35 that the Holy Spirit would come upon her. The Holy Spirit will give us the power we need to accomplish our God given calling. Mary responds so bravely and full of faith “I am the Lord’s slave, May it be done to me according to your word.” What a response. She chose without hesitation to walk in obedience and humility no matter what the cost would be. I have to stop here and evaluate my own heart and life and I invite you to do the same. Do I respond the same way Mary did when I am asked to make a great sacrifice for the kingdom? Do I quickly give up the favor bestowed upon me in order to take a safer path? Do I fully trust Him enough to pick up my cross to follow Him? I mean a cross is heavy, and has splinters and leads to TORTURE! Am I ready for the highly favored life? I want with everything within me to say “I am the Lord’s slave.” I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, and so do you if you have chosen to follow Jesus. So what are we waiting for! Here we are Lord, use us.

Do better.

I know full well that the hwy between home and church is bumpy; yet, Sunday after Sunday I choose to bring an open-lid coffee mug in the car with me. Inevitably, the trip ends with spilled coffee on my Sunday best.

I know the end result.

Yet.

Yet I choose to do the same thing over and over and over and over. Week after week. Sunday after Sunday.

Why?

Because I’m a hardheaded human.

Because I am human.

And well, oftentimes humans just do dumb things.

We know the consequences. We know that the end result could be detrimental to our shirt or far worse; yet, we carry the coffee [and our sin] all lackadaisical like we don’t have a care [or a prayer] in the world.

We’ve got to do better.

On purpose.

With intentionality.

We’ve got to decide wholeheartedly that we – for lack of a better word – are not gonna act like a dummy.

Knowing the right choice to make is easy; making the right choice is so much harder. The truth of the matter is that the only foreseeable way to be successful on this road called life is with God being at the center of all we do.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Know your worth.

Know Your Worth❤️ It changes everything 🙌

Though we may feel incomplete we are complete in Him, and He loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without a compass, God’s love encompasses us completely…..He loves everyone of us, even when we feel flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful or broken. His love is never ending…❤️

He doesn’t leave us as orphans…

He cries with us in our pain and grief…

We can’t earn His love…

We love because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Reading The Holy Bible everyday and applying it to your life on a daily basis will bring breakthrough…

God is so good❤️

Know your worth in Him💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

Abundance

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;

let those who love your salvation continually say,

“The Lord is great!”—Psalm 40:16

Those who look to him are radiant with joy;

their faces will never be ashamed.—Psalm 34:5

Young lions lack food and go hungry,

but those who seek the Lord

will not lack any good thing.—Psalm 34:10

It’s Black Friday! I don’t know what you usually do on Black Friday, but I spend the day out and about. For a few years, it was all about finding the best bargains. As time progressed, it became a day shared in laughter with friends and family and not so much about what I could get at a bargain price. I’ve discovered that Black Friday is one of the best people watching days of the year. It’s also a day to find the oddest clothing or trinkets that you never knew you or your friends needed. You don’t have to look hard to find things that cause one to smile or laugh on Black Friday, but you do have to look.

That’s the way it is with God. We want to see His goodness, but we don’t look. We spend so much time looking at ourselves that we don’t see the blessings and joy God gives us. Seeing God’s goodness requires that we get out of ourselves. We must seek Him. When we open our eyes to God, we see the greatest gift ever offered, salvation. When we open our hearts and receive that gift, joy will be abundant. That joy is a result of God’s grace, love, mercy, and abundant blessings found in seeking Him.

Unlike the smiles and laughter of my Black Friday experiences, we don’t have to wait for a special day to enjoy the blessings of God. Abundant joy is always available when we look to the Father and have an intimate relationship with Him. Seeking Him will bring the greatest joy we can experience in this life!

Testify.

Listen, you’ve got to stop worrying if people are going to think you are posting too much about Jesus.

If they feel that way then they are the one with the issue – not you.

If you feel that little nudge to post something then you better post it. That one post may be an instrumental piece of the change that someone is longing for in their life.

Just one person.

And guess what? They may not even click that little like button. They may never message you and say because of that post …

It’s not about the likes, and it’s not about the thank you.

It’s about spreading the gospel.

It’s about obedience.

Post about Jesus, y’all.

Testify.

Share His story.

It’s what He told us to do.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

True Openness

The burden of my heart right now is for families to experience the presence of God in our homes and not just wait for Sundays to come around to experience His presence.

I’m talking about the presence of God that brings transformation right in your home.

This will take stewarding it well in an atmosphere that is pure and holy. This is an invitation.

“Lord, when you said to me, “Seek my face,” my inner being responded, “I’m seeking your face with all my heart.”Psalms 27:8 TPT

Seek: to find something, to look for intently (with earnest & eager attention)

With the seeking of His presence comes purity & holiness. Purity and holiness isn’t something that just comes when you work really really hard at it. Yes, we strive to remain holy by protecting what’s in us but protecting what’s in us happens when we seek His face. Purity and holiness come when we are seeking the face of the one who is pure and holy.

His presence brings freedom so it drives out the sin and bondage holding us to the impure and unholy things.

“Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 TPT

“Wherever He is Lord…”

So as we begin seeking him, those impure things begin leaving our homes, therefore the presence of God can stay and dwell.

We can’t look at the face of God and impure things at the same time. One or the other will leave. Seeking looks like intimacy. It’s searching Him out, finding out all that you can about Abba & in return opening yourself up for Him to do the same.

Intimacy is: in to me you see. It’s being totally vulnerable with the father.

True openness and vulnerability with the Father breaks bondage and brings freedom.

Stewarding the presence of God in our homes means no more bondage, which causes healthy families and healthy families make up a healthy church! Once we get free of all the junk & bondage, it becomes really easy to steward His presence in our homes.

Intimacy with The Father allows me to know where I stand with Him which destroys any intimidation that tries to come when stewarding His presence. It’s gets rid of the “I’m not enough, I’m not worthy enough” mindset. Intimacy allows me to know I’m righteous, I’m in right standing with God right now.

“For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 TPT

Once I know that & it gets in my heart, I can easily steward His presence with confidence. Then, I get to teach my family how to do the same. Healthy families steward the presence of God together. This destroys division & brings total health & wholeness. We also steward his presence well by not allowing negativity, ungratefulness, or complaining in our home.

“He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. [Rev. 7:17.] He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.” Psalm 23:2-3, 5 AMPC

Some of us have been so busy looking at what’s going on around the table, that we’ve forgotten a feast has been prepared for us with the Father. Feasting with the Father causes everything around the table to become less important & a lot smaller. When I seek & feast at the table He’s prepared in my home, my home becomes a place of peace & rest. Your home becomes a place where you’re refreshed & rejuvenated. It becomes a place that righteousness is found.

Because the presence of God is stewarded & the Holy Spirit is free there, Galatians 5 takes place within you & your home.

“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.” Galatians 5:22-23 TPT

Your cup now runs over & you have ALL that you could ever need to give to your family, church, community, & yourself…all because you steward the presence of God well within your home.

Circumstances

As we walk through life, people move in and out of our circle. God uses our circumstances to teach us to be like Him, even in a loss.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your cares on Him for he cares for you.

★ Difficult times make us want to give up

★ Giving up is a result of anxiety

★ Anxiety can be a result of broken trust

★ Broken trust leads to lack of forgiveness

Difficult time in my life: Losing someone close to me because of their own brokenness.

● How do you help? You can only give them God’s protection by showing them. You can’t make the situation go away.

○ They may not want help. They may choose to be distant, which causes you hurt.

●This makes it hard to forgive the toxic friendship or relative.

○ Later, you will realize that sometimes being distant is better. Sometimes people come in seasons to help us,

Sometimes it is to help them. If a person chooses to grow apart, just trust in God that you have made some difference in their lives.

★ This is why 1 Peter 5:7 is so important. Cast all your cares because God does care for us. We know that in difficult times, He will take care of us.

Testify.

Testimonies are ugly man.

Hear me out.

They involve mistakes.

And sin.

And other people.

They involve hurt.

And fear.

And evidence of the humanness that resides amongst us all.

But testimonies are beautiful.

They involve redemption.

And forgiveness.

And grace.

They involve hope.

And love.

And evidence of God’s spirit that resides amongst us all.

Don’t be scared to share your testimony.

It’s yours.

But it’s also God’s.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6